Monday Interview: Chief executive of cyber security firm in midst of IPO

“INVESTMENT will allow us to accelerate growth and manage clients’ security 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Ian Mann, chief executive of Yorkshire’s latest floatation, ECSC.

The Bradford-based cyber security firm, announced plans to launch an IPO last week and it is expected to begin trading officially on 14 December 2016.

ECSC is aiming to raise £5m through a placing of 2,994,011 new shares at a price of 167p per share according to details released this morning. 519,174 shares held by existing selling shareholders will be sold at the placing price.

This gives the company, which returned revenues of £2.7m and gross profit of £2.2m for the year ended 30 September 2015, a market capitalisation of £15m.

It also has a strong board, including non-executive chairman Nigel Payne, formerly of Sportingbet plc and non-executive directors David Mathewson, formerly of Playtech Group, Steve Vaugh of listed businesses Communisis, Synstar and Phoenix IT.

Now, the company plans to expand rapidly, increasing headcount to 200 from its current 50 staff by 2018. Chief executive and founder Mr Mann is planning on developing cyber security sales and consulting academies to train staff in-house.

ECSC will also open a Australian operations base to allow it to function 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, said Mr Mann. He said this would open up market opportunities with global enterprises who expect extensive coverage, and the company will be opening a Leeds office in the new year, adding 20 staff to a city centre site.

A London-based incident centre is also planned, enhancing its presence in the south. However ECSC remains a Yorkshire business, said Mr Mann speaking to TheBusinessDesk.com last week.

He said: “We’re very much a local company, although we have worked in more than 25 countries in last 16 years. When we first started we were recruiting graduates straight out of the local colleges and later the universities in Bradford.”

ECSC seems to have had no trouble with graduate recruitment, seeing 400 applicants for 20 roles at their last recruitment drive, but the nature of what the company does specifically is partially shrouded in secrecy.

Without going into specifics, he said: “Some of what we do is testing security – people employ us to hack in to assess weaknesses, and manage security, their firewalls and detective systems. Other clients bring us in to help achieve international standards and we also get incident response callouts from those that are currently being hacked. New ways of hacking are invented every day and it’s our job to keep on top of that for clients.”

Mr Mann, who founded the business in 2000, had himself previously worked for Dixons City Technology College. He said launching GCSC was a gamble for him, as although he had completed an MBA he had not run a business like it before.

“My wife was a bit nervous,” he said when he announced that he would be financing the new business with credit cards, but his calculated gamble seems to have paid off. GCSC now has a blue-chip client base including Barclays and GCHQ.

“I’ve always had scope to grow as a business, through either external investment or a float, and floatation works better for us. It also helps with public profile and the potential for raising money . The time was right and we are the right size to float – it just made sense,” he said.

 

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